In the days when Christmas Day was celebrated on 5 January Twelfth Night was celebrated twelve days later on 17 January. This date is now known as Old Twelfth Night and is a traditional date for festivities throughout the cider making counties of
First comes the cake, Somerset Apple Cake, handed round to everyone. It is moist with apple and spiced with cinnamon and crackling with brown sugar. Someone will find a bean in their piece, and they will become the King or Queen of the Wassail and be crowned with a wreath of green leaves. They are entitled to issue an edict – our King wished everyone to be happy for the night – and their reign lasts until midnight.
Led by the King, holding a triple handled wassail cup filled with cider and a two pronged fork with a piece of toast soaked in cider, we process out to the orchard. The cider is sprinkled around the base of the apple tree, for a good harvest to come; the toast is placed in the boughs, for the robin; and a shot is fired into the branches, to ward off evil spirits.
12 oz self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
8 oz margarine/butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
6 oz caster sugar
4 oz sultanas
1 lb cooking apples, finely chopped
a little milk
a little demerara sugar
Place in an eight-inch greased cake tin, and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on the top.
Bake for one-and-a-half hours, in a moderate oven (Gas Mark 4/180°C/350°F). Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack.
This cake is better if you wrap it up in foil or waxed paper for a day or two.